Monday, September 24, 2018

Don’t Toss that Bike!




This Shed is a bit like the Tardis - it is also a veritable goldmine for things like that weird screw that's missing from your bike or the strange tool you need to remove the what's it from the so and so

I am feeling a bit smug today because I just saved two bikes from the tip. To be sure one of them had a bent wheel, but it’s for want of a replacement which, with specialized fitting, cost almost as much as a new bike, that it was destined for landfill. I hope this will give another one a new lease of life, or better still, someone might be able to restore it, if they can find another wheel somewhere.
The other one, a Vintage Malvern Star which belonged to my daughter when she was at Uni and has been ridden by me occasionally i.e. about ten years ago, was also headed that way, but today I took both bikes to our friendly neighbourhood bicycle kitchen.


You are supposed to fix your own bike, but everyone was very helpful

The weather was awful – I take back what I said about it being spring, but there were a few hardy souls there who very kindly helped me to get all the parts straight and moving again. That’s not exactly what is supposed to happen. Bike kitchens provide the venue and the tools, but you are supposed to do the work yourself, but I am really grateful to all the people helped me e.g. the young man who carried the bike from the car and especially Eric who reattached and pumped up its tyres, tightened screws here and there and made sure that everything still worked. Now the bike just needs a good clean and I’ll be able to wobble off into the sunset with my three little ladies in the holidays. This may require a little practice beforehand. I don’t remember this bike being so high off the ground or having so many gears.  I shall have to get myself some “L” plates.

Special thanks to Eric who's hiding behind a bicycle.

Meanwhile, bicycle workshops are an excellent idea. They already exist in many countries and other Australian cities– there’s brief list at the end of this post. If there isn’t one near you – perhaps you could start one. The local one meets on Sundays behind the Wilderness Society in Davey Street –between 1 and 4 pm.

Don’t have a bike? No problem. The Risdon Bike Collective  has restored bikes and parts for sale  and at the Hobart Bicycle Kitchen you can choose yourself a bike to do up.

If only we had something similar for appliances – the dishwasher had to go to the recycling centre for scrap because the parts are no longer available and so did two perfectly good printers – far better than the ones around now, which had to be discarded because they don’t work on Windows 10.  Come on manufacturers, I am sure you can do better! Universal phone plugs were a very good start. We simply can’t keep wasting resources like this, not to mention creating so much landfill.

Bike Kitchens
Bike Maintenance

PS I jsut heard that the drought is leading the kangaroos into Canberra and causing all kinds of havoc for cyclists  



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Beneath the Walls of Jerusalem


A glimpse of  the Walls of Jerusalem,  though this photo doesn't even hint at how tall and imposing they are


I had hoped to post some lovely pictures of waterfalls today, but alas it was not to be.
The first of these lay on the eastern side of the Walls of Jerusalem - not the famous historic sort, though they probably should be. The “Walls” are a somewhat mysterious mountain range which lies between Cradle Mountain - its well -known cousin, and the Central Highlands. While traditionally visited by hardy bushmen, snarers and mountain cattlemen, the forbidding terrain, the lack of any kind of services and the difficulty of access, renders it less likely to be on the tourist itinerary.  The road in itself had been closed for several years after the devastating floods and fires of 2015 and 2016 and has only recently been reopened. For some beautiful photos of the region check out David Noble's post about same.

Looking over a deep gorge towards Clumner Bluff (I think!)

Nevertheless, it harbours some jewels –A string of lakes called King Solomon's Jewels in fact, and Bethesda’s Pool, stands of ancient pencil pines and an amphitheatre of rock formations which can only be accessed through gaps called Herod’s Gate or Damascus Gate. The names alone will convey some of the awe and reverence felt by early European visitors.  I walked there with my sister one Christmas and remember it well, especially the beautiful wildflowers, but the gruelling climb to reach them also remains indelibly etched in my memory so I have stayed well away. [It didn’t help that besides tent, stove and sleeping bag, I was also carrying our Christmas Dinner, a cast iron frying pan and a bottle of bubbly].

Despite the destruction wrought by fire and flood, parts of the forest are making a comeback
 
Yesterday’s walk in search of a waterfall aptly billed as “Tasmania’s best kept secret,” took me along the base of these imposing ramparts. The road in was so terrible it shook the gas line right off the van’s gas cylinder* which gave me a bit of a fright when I stopped to make a coffee, and though I walked for six hours and saw some lovely scenery, I never did find that waterfall.


The bridge - looking remarkably like the one at Kelly Basin. There is no sign of a track though

 
Yes, I wished I hadn’t left my detailed TasMap of this area in Tullah, where I thought it would be of more use.  I wished I had a Garmin GPS. Knowing I would have no signal in these parts, I had downloaded the relevant sections from Google Maps to use offline, but they were not detailed enough to show the waterfall or the several different trails which ran from the main one. I had also taken three different sets of track notes, none of which agreed with each other or accurately reflected where the falls were. 

The first one said follow the road for two hours and you would come to some signage indicating that you were now in The Walls of Jerusalem National Park, after which you go gently uphill, though the track may be overgrown and indistinct. The second one did mention that there were “tempting” turnoffs to other tracks, while the last one said that the track started as soon as you stepped off the broken bridge. There was no sign of a track there and I ignored the next road to the right because I assumed it led to the other places described by the second writer. A note on the usually reliable “Waterfalls of Tasmania” site had also said “head south from the old carpark,” whereas this track trended more towards the west.

The river which it spans

 I walked at least another hour or so beyond the old carpark and explored one track with a broken sign that once said something about Little Fisher too. I followed this one as well until it lost itself in scrub, and then returned to the main track until I came to a large fallen wattle. Then I walked back the way I had come. Just as I reached the old carpark again, I saw a broken branch at the side of the track with a pink ribbon tied to it and an arrow made of branches pointing up the hill.  Both were invisible on the way up – the branch arrow had just looked like a normal bit of fallen timber and the pink tape lay crumpled in a ditch. I’d seen odd bits of blue tape here and there too but it didn’t seem to mean anything. Could this really be the one? Or was it perhaps marking one of the other walks?

"Little Fish..." No, this track didn't lead anywhere either
 
By this time I had been walking for about five and a half hours and was really a bit too tired to start on another mystery walk. Even if it was the right one, it would take at least another hour and a half to the start of the track plus an hour of bush bashing to the falls and the same back again, plus the half hour or so back to the car. It’s good to know one’s limitations.  That’s probably the only reason I am still around to talk about it.  Great was the temptation to stay the night and try again in the morning, but having checked the weather forecast beforehand, I knew snow was scheduled for the next three days and the Central Highlands is not a place you want to be snowed in, unless it’s in one of our more luxurious chalets with a wood fire, and preferably a friend or two to keep you company.

I saw this arrow when I was almost back at the carpark. On the way up it just looked like a stick. Could this be the one? By this time I was too tired to find out.


Yes, I was disappointed but it was still quite a lovely walk. The mountain views were stunning, the wattles were starting to shed their golden light and there were some pretty sections of myrtle forest.  The Mersey Forest Road, which has only recently come back into service after its bridges were washed away, is a revelation in itself with startling gorges, engineering wonders, rushing waters and manmade lakes at every turn. This part of the road is good – for now at least. It’s when you turn off onto Dublin Road which you follow for 12 km or so, and then the 5 Km of pointy rocks that are Little Fisher Road, that the problems begin. I would never risk taking a two wheel drive vehicle along these roads again - not even with truck tyres, so don’t say you haven’t been warned. “I will be back!” as General Douglas MacArthur said, but not before I have found a friend with a four wheel drive.

Arm River, just off the Mersey Forest Road, on the way out
More daunting still though, was the profound sense of isolation I felt here. Even though I am used to travelling alone, as soon as the sun vanished from view, which was often, it became very cold and you could feel the mountains closing in and glowering down. Seeing devil scats as I was walking made me think that if there were still any Tasmanian Tigers around, this would be the sort of place where they might feel at home. I would not want to be stranded here.  Beautiful as Tasmania is, it can be treacherous once you leave the well - groomed tracks of a Mt. Field or Cradle Mountain.


P.S. Next day: Glad I hightailed it home last night.  We have had absolutely foul weather ever since – high winds, sleety rain and we are practically at sea level, so I can't imagine what it would be like in the mountains.  What a pity we can’t send some of this bounty to our poor farmers up north.
* A special thank you to Don Howe (Engineering) of Mole Creek for fixing the gas line.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Helping our drought stricken farmers






These two charming hayseeds are raising money for the "A Fiver for  a Farmer" project at their school       

If it’s one thing ordinary Australians are good at, it’s rallying around when things are tough, be it because of bushfires, floods, or in this case, one of the worst droughts Australia has had since Federation (in 1902).
While the cumbersome machinery of government does its bit with low interest loans, income support and concessions and the like, and large corporations such as Qantas, Woolworths and Channel 9, have made substantial contributions, it is heartwarming to see so many people doing their best to help. 


Fundraiser at Groundsman Espresso  for Buy a Bale (see below)

Some of the more unusual efforts include a Fiver for a Farmer, begun by ten - year - old Sydney schoolboy Jack Berne and which has so far raised $155, 000, or the two sisters in Queensland, who, thinking of their own rural childhood, are collecting formal dresses, so that country girls don’t miss out on social activities such as their Leaver’s Dinner. 
Others, such as the Farm Army help out on farms while groups such as Lion's and Rotary donate time, goods, feed or transport. The very popular Buy a Bale program which operates in Woolworths supermarkets, also buys water, fuel and groceries for cash strapped families, while Drought Angels, recognising that drought also takes an emotional toll, endeavours to provide farm families with a break, care packages and fuel vouchers. 

Should you wish to make a donation, here's a list of the major charities involved with drought relief. They will ensure that ALL of the money is fairly distributed, starting with those most in need. See their websites too, for other ways in which you may be able to contribute:






Friday, August 31, 2018

Shipwrecks and Shorebirds – Afternoon at Marion Bay





Beach landscape in Winter
It’s been spring -like today, but apart from that it feels like it’s been raining for a month. Nevertheless,  there was one day, a bit grey, when the rain held off for a while and my walking buddy  hauled me off to a rather lovely beach for a couple of hours.  

The winter visitor's reward - an untrodden beach
 

I imagine that Marion Bay goes crazy over summer. It is a popular spot with surfers, but today its modest collection of beach houses seems subdued and almost abandoned.  There is merit in visiting a beach in winter, so long as you aren’t looking for a swim. 


Looking eastwards towards the Forestier Peninsula


From the new lookout there are views over long stretches of empty beach, the ragged coast of the Forestier Peninsula, a bit of Maria Island and a wide expanse of open sea.  Apparently this bay has long been popular with sailors - a welcome pause after crossing the wild Southern Ocean.
Abel Tasman (1642) is reputed to have been the first European to call in, then Marion Du Fresne (hence the name) 130 years later, and finally fellow Frenchman, Nicholas Baudin on his way up the East Coast in 1902.  Until 1905 when the Dennison Canal was built, sailors still had to brave the exposed southern tip of the Tasman Peninsula to reach safer waters.  Though the new shortcut helped, ships still had to negotiate the narrow channel at its entrance whereby some still came to grief. According to the signage the wreck of the Zephyr is sometimes visible when storms shift the sand.

Shorebirds at Long Spit where ships had to negotiate  "The Narrows" a difficult channel, where several ran aground.
 
There’s no sign of the shipwreck as we walk the length of Long Spit, but we do see lots of seabirds and shorebirds– molly hawks and pied oyster catchers, gulls and the odd heron. The surrounding marshes are a haven for many more, as well as wallabies and echidnas.  The information board at the Lookout mentions that the area was also popular with Aboriginal people and shell middens prove that  sailors were not the only ones to find it a pleasant place to put in for a while. Other visitors include fur seals, dolphins and whales.

Notes on the Aboriginal History, Explorers and Natural History are found at the top of the Lookout

The sea air invigorates, the sun briefly warms, but a light shower starts before we finish our walk. The map at the start of the reserve said we would meet up with a farm road at this stage, but we don’t find it. Instead, we find ourselves scrambling back along the beach with rogue waves lapping at our boots. As the clouds descend and the wind springs up,  we see the darker side of what seemed such a  pleasant looking beach. 
Who would be a sailor?
Wind Power - this tree shows how strongly the winds blow here